We recently completed birthday season at our house. In the space of about two months, we celebrated four birthdays plus Christmas. (Which pretty much covers everyone around here.)
There are times when I think it would have been nice to have a summer birthday or two. That money pit of a pool in our backyard sure would make the party-planning a lot easier, at least.
But alas. That is not how it happened. And I’m OK with that, because I really do like that Lilly’s birthday is one day before mine, and Molly’s is exactly one month ahead of Randy’s. (It’s the small things, folks, that bring joy to my heart.)
One of my two top love languages is gifts. It always has been, I think, even before I knew about Gary Chapman and his five ways people feel loved. I have fond memories of the brown shopping bag full of presents my mom would put on my dining room chair every year on my birthday. I don’t remember specific presents. I just remember it was a bag full of things she had purchased just for me.
As the sixth of seven children, it’s easy to feel overlooked even if you aren’t really. Those presents weren’t for anyone else; they were mine. And that made me feel loved.
My favorite kind of gift is not the most expensive. In fact, I’d rather someone didn’t spend a lot of money on me, especially if he or she could have gotten the thing on sale.
I don’t remember every single item anyone has ever given me, like Lilly does. But I have received a few gifts in recent history that stand out as especially meaningful.
One summer, we were up north visiting Randy’s parents. While there, we stopped by a souvenir shop at a popular tourist spot. There was a little display of costume jewelry rings up by the cash registers, as I recall. One ring, in particular, caught my eye. It was red and huge and sparkly, and I loved it.
For quite awhile, I vacillated between buying it and leaving it there, but finally my practical side won out and we left without it.
That Christmas, when I opened my gift from my inlaws, I was delighted to find that very same ring, nestled in a little box. Apparently, they had noticed my interest in the ring—maybe I had even showed it to them—and returned to the shop when I wasn’t looking to get it for me.
That, to me, is the perfect gift. It shows they were paying attention to me and what I liked. They noticed, and they did something about it.
The other gift that stands out in my mind as one of the all-time bests is a bouquet of roses that sits on the dresser in my bedroom. The flowers are made from tissue paper and floral wire, and they are beautiful to me.
During the Great Recession, Randy was laid off for about three months. He normally gives me a big bouquet of roses and several small presents for Valentine’s Day. This time, though, we didn’t know how long he would be without a job, so neither of us wanted him to spend a lot of money on things like roses.
Instead, totally unbeknownst to me, he scrounged around in the wrapping and craft supplies and came up with all the things he needed to make his own flowers. He spent hours in the basement, working on them. It took time, creativity and thought, the sum of which made it the best bouquet I’ve ever received.
They say it’s the thought that counts. Well, for me, the present counts too, but even more, the thoughts behind it.
That is the love language my heart hears best.